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2010, vol. 16, iss. 2, pp. 54-65
Criminal offences relative to medical practice
University of Belgrade, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Forensic medicine
Abstract
In The Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia (CC), adopted in 2005, criminal acts that may ensue from medical practice were classified in different categories. Criminal offences such as 'Medical Malpractice' (Article 251 of the CC) and 'Failure to Provide Medical Assistance' (Article 253 of the CC) belong to the category of 'Criminal Offences Against Human Health and Environment'. Medical malpractice (Art 251 CC) - The offender can be either a medical doctor or any other medical staff. The Code states following malpractices: using an evidently inadequate means or an evidently unsuitable treatment, failing to observe appropriate hygiene standards or evidently proceeding unconscientiously in any respect. Medical malpractice criminal offence is committed by an obviously unconscientious manner which causes deterioration of a person's health. In some cases, the character and severity of patient's medical condition or injury for which he is treated can be such that they themselves can lead to deterioration of a person's health or even death, despite all adequate treatment and therapy. In such cases, if the adequacy of treatment can be evidently proved by means of promptly kept medical documentation, there is no ground for prosecution of the doctor, as the deterioration of person's medical condition was not caused by medical malpractice. Article 259 of the CC (Grave Offences Against Health) prescribes more serious punishments for doctors in cases of maltreatment leading to grievous bodily harm, serious health impairment or death of a patient. Failure to provide medical assistance (Art 253 CC) - The offender of this criminal act can be solely a doctor who contrary to his duty refuses to render medical assistance to a person in need of such assistance and whose life is in immediate and present danger, either by directly refusing to do so or by concealing his identity i.e. profession. For such a criminal offence it is not necessary that due to the failure to provide medical assistance there is a lethal outcome or even deterioration of health of the person in danger of onset of grave bodily harm or death. Graver punishment for a doctor is prescribed if the failure to provide medical assistance leads to serious injury, grave bodily harm or death of the person to whom medical assistance was not provided. Recommendations for good medical practice: (1) One should always act according to the accepted principles of contemporary medical science and practice. (2) Prompt medical documentation. (3) Suggesting medico-legal autopsy in cases where a lethal outcome occurred during a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure.
References
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article language: Serbian
document type: Review Paper
published in SCIndeks: 19/10/2010

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